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Dive Review of Dive Safari in
St. Maarten

Dive Safari, Nov, 2004,

by James Heimer, TX, USA (Contributor Contributor 15 reports). Report 1476.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, Tahiti, N & S California, Norway, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Australia Barrier Reef, Honduras, Belize, St Thomas
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 74 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Dive guided by Divemaster with 12 divers in group from cruise ship, Carnival Legend
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Boat had separate rinse tank for cameras, but this was also the only place to store them on boat to and from the nearby (10 min) site.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments This was by far the best of two experiences we have had diving with a group organized by a cruise ship. The previous experience at St Thomas from the Carnival Triumph was an overpriced ($70) one tank shore dive from a popular tourist beach. This, however, was a moderately challenging, two tank boat dive with a very professional dive operation on a new, well laid out boat. The cost was $90 for two dives, including all equipment, which was below the cost to walk up to the shop and do the same dives and rent all of the equipment.

The group was met at the cruise ship gangplank by the dive staff, who warned us that 6 foot swells were running at the sites. My wife and I immediately downed bonine. The dive staff noted who needed what equipment, and we were then shuttled over to the dive shop to pick up BC's (everything else was on the boat, including weight belts set up with the weights we had specified) and board the boats for the 10 minute ride to the sites.

We first dove Proselyte, the wreck of an 18th century sailing vessel. There are numerous cannon, anchors and bits of the ship scattered about the shallow reef. The swells were daunting, and there were several cases of mal de mer. The entry was a giant stride off the stern, each group of 6 divers met their dive master / guide on the tag line and decended for the 45 minute / 60 foot dive. Aside from the shipwreck, the area is carpetted by mulit colored soft corals and sponges. There was surge all the way to the bottom. The exit was to surface after a safety stop, pull into the boat on the tag line, remove fins and hand them to the dive master in the water, and climb out. This was easier than I had expected, and the dive staff in the water and on the boat were very attentive to assit the divers.

The second dive was at The Maze. There were the same soft corals and sponges and the most amazingn assemblage of lobsters on a small vertical rock face that I have encountered, with 3 to five in each of the dozen or so holes in the wall.

The Dive Safari staff said that these conditions of large swells, underwater surge, and somewhat limited visibility were typical of St Maarten (we were diving on the Dutch side on the south), although in the afternoon as the cruise ship left and passed by the sites, the sea had turned to glass. There is more sheltered diving, and a one tank beginner dive was also offered in one of these bays.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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